Over the past few weeks, Arab regimes have been racing to normalise relations with the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime, in total disregard for the millions of victims, who were displaced, forcibly disappeared, and jailed.
The Saudi regime recently invited Assad to attend the Arab League summit in Jeddah after the assembly decided to re-admit Syria to the organisation after it was suspended in 2011 over his ongoing crimes against his own people.
The UAE appears to have also deliberately ignored the Syrian people’s plight by formally inviting Assad to attend the UN Cop28 climate change conference in Dubai in November, which would be his first global summit since the beginning of the war in 2011, in which he committed war crimes using internationally-prohibited bombs, missiles, and chemical weapons – with the support of the Russian and Iranian regimes.
The Arab regimes’ position towards Bashar has changed, although his repressive and criminal practices have not changed. They justified the decision to normalise relations with the fear of the Iranian threat, ignoring the fact that Bashar al-Assad is no different from the Iranian regime.
The decision to restore ties with the Syrian regime is a disgrace to the entire Arab community, and a stab in the back of 300,000 victims, tens of thousands of detainees, hundreds of thousands of wounded and permanently disabled people, and millions of displaced people.
The Syrian crisis is not over yet. Hundreds of civilians are still being killed or injured and losing their homes as a result of Russian, Iranian, and Syrian attacks, especially on refugee camps in northwestern Idlib, Daraa, Hama and northern Aleppo, which amount to war crimes.
Syria is still a dangerous place where reports of arbitrary arrests, torture, and forced disappearances are common. Despite the fact that this has been widely reported, the oppressive Arab regimes, including those in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Tunisia, do not see these as sufficient grounds for breaking off relations with Bashar’s government.
These repressive regimes’ decision to cooperate with Bashar al-Assad is not surprising, given that they follow similar repressive policies against their people at home and abroad. However, the move will still be shocking and shameful, and requires a firm international stance to deter these regimes and stop them from gaining any immunity that would allow them to commit more violations and crimes.